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How do you deal with this (business question)?

Discussion in 'Studio Lounge' started by bewarethanatos, Mar 19, 2006.

  1. So I'm interning/working with a producer (henceforth known as Jason), and within this year I'm going to go from intern/assistant to paid engineer. Point is- I'm learning about producing from him.

    I contacted a band about producing their next full-length for them, and they seemed really into it. We started talking about prices (I know, shouldn't talk money online- mistake admitted) and I offered $500/day (Jason and I are fairly confident I would be able to earn that.) This is comes to about $40/hour each day, and we can stretch recording out over a few months, with flexible payment plans.

    Well after telling them about the studio, and what we offer as a private production studio over other public studios in the area (better gear, better atmosphere- among other things) and having them sound really psyched- I stop hearing from them.

    I'm pretty sure they're going to go to another local studio with another kid my age (I'm 20.) This studio is nowhere near as nice (I recorded there when I was 17, so I know how the studio is run- it's extremely unprofessional,) just cheaper. This seems to always happen to me. I contact tons of bands- without even mentioning money- and (in essence) say "I'm interested in working with your band" and get no response at all, or this kid steals their business. Yes, I'm bitter.

    How should I handle something like this? I'm new to the business side of recording, and things like this are very disheartening. What are good ways of networking that could help the chances of me obtaining business?
     
  2. TVPostSound

    TVPostSound Guest

    I think you answered your own question!!!

    The competition is so tight here in LA, I see engineer producers
    charging $50.00 per song!!!!
     
  3. great place to ask these questions!!! check it out!

    Hey! i suggest you go to http://www.professorpooch.com. There is a section of this page to ask these kind of questions to the professor himself...He has been in hte business for over 25 years. check it out!!!
    <3
    gabby
     
  4. Jeemy

    Jeemy Well-Known Member

    Unfortunately mate what you are talking about is sales and its the same in any industry, believe me. Even more so in these days of internet purchases - potential customers are used to buying 'sight unseen' and are of the mindset that every supplier is the same, and the only difference is the price.

    In the recording industry they assume we will all have ProTools and Neumanns and for 10-20 bucks an hour less, they will stop caring.

    The good news is that because it is just sales, you can learn from any sales technique book or course, and apply that learning to any industry.

    Some things to be aware of - it is very possible to give away too much information, and to end up in a situation where prospective clients are subconsciously using you to garner information which they can then use to barter with the studio they always planned to use anyway. They are simply using you as a free source of information to confirm what they already decided. Ways to combat this? You have to get in earlier, and ensure that you are the person they want to deal with, and they go elsewhere to confirm that they have made the right decision with you.

    This means getting your prospective clients much earlier than the time they decide to make a record; being aware of their band, seeing them live, introducing yourself without trying to sell to them; let them work out for themselves who you are and what you do. Networking is key here; you have to be connected, and you have to be organised.

    Don't give them all the information at once - that gives them a checklist that they can go away and use to question other studios - finding out more than they did about you because they take your information and USPs as read; they assume the other studios have your facilities and ask them more questions.

    Try to keep your contact to smaller, manageable chunks, until you can make them come back to you with the questions. Tell them you can't give them a price until you know what they want......ensure they have come to visit you and seen your space before you even discuss finances.....take a previous CD or their demo and listen to it hard so you can comment on it, referencing facilities or techniques you have to facets of their music.

    I can't recommend any sales books to you mainly because I have read so much that I forget which ones were good; but if you are essentially selfemployed (I have been since 17) you soon learn that whatever the trade, the flow of customers is the only important thing. Without it, nothing you do means anything.

    Every customer is going to be different and you are going to have to learn every way of bringing them on board before you can know which technique to apply to which situation.

    The good news is that you cant do any worse than you are doing, you'll be learning and earning as you improve, and you'll have a lot of fun meeting prospective clients and contacts.

    I hope this helps a bit - one other thing - you say you talked money online - does this mean you did all of this by email? Try to do your client meetings on the phone or face to face. At the end of the day people simply want to work with somebody they'd have a beer with.

    Don't get depressed when you lose a prospect, there will be a frequency in there - you may have to meet 50 bands before you get the $5000 contract - if you give up at band 49, you earnt $0 from each meeting, but if you carry on, it turns out you earnt $100 per band!

    Don't stop looking for new business avenues when you have work for a few months; you need to keep adding to your pool of prospective clients every week.

    Sponsoring openmics, writing free advice in local fanzines and free music mags, sponsoring good live music venues - give them free T-shirts for the bar staff to wear - there are a million ways to get your name out there and start making the connections in peoples brains that suggest to them that when they come to record, you are the natural choice.

    And remember if you aren't recording, and its what you really want to do, every minute should be devoted to looking to what you can do to gain business.

    Keep notes of what you say to bands when you contact them. If something isnt working, change your pitch.

    Make a call to your competitor (or get a friend to, and listen in) take notes on what he says that is gaining business when you arent.

    Sounds like a lot, but like anything, get in the habit of doing these things now, and it will become second nature.

    Hope some if not all of that helps.

    J
     
  5. Thanks a lot, that was really helpful.

    When I contact bands, (which I do online) I try to set up meetings where we can discuss their project and their music, vision, etc. But when I tell bands "I would really be interested in doing your next production with you" they just come back with "how much?" So I tell them, "why don't we meet first so we can discuss it? (among other things)" and I get "well we'd really like to know the price first before we commit to anything."

    I personally think that if a band is really in it for the music, they'll put the price aside for a minute to listen to what can be done to help them achieve their artistic vision. Am I wrong in assuming this? I know price is a big selling point, but some bands would rather record with the money they have now and get a mediocre recording than save up for a while so they can get something that sounds professional.
     
  6. jonyoung

    jonyoung Well-Known Member

    An approach I use with the "how much?" crowd sometimes is to turn the question around and ask them what kind of budget they have in mind for their project? It gives them the impression (hopefully because it's true) that you're willing to be flexible with your pricing and that you're really more interested in specifically working with them rather than just making money. On the other hand, I've been self employed my whole life and have developed pretty good intuition on who to avoid doing business with. Many people who shop based on price alone are a pain in the ass to deal with. I gotta be honest with you though, $500 a day for a 20 year old engineer with no track record strikes me as a little steep. You may have great ears and talent, but you're price-pointing yourself against veterans with lots of experience. That's going to be hard to compete with.
     
  7. No, I agree. The reason is, I had to rent the studio out for $250/day (and I needed to make enough money to pay the bills). But now our rates have changed, being the hours from 9:30am to 7pm from Monday- Friday all for $1,000. That's a much better deal than any other studio around here, and after giving the producer his studio rental fee, I still make enough to live on.
     
  8. jonyoung

    jonyoung Well-Known Member

    What format(s) is the studio? The preponderance of home studios with DAWS has been a big advantage for studio clientele shopping for a deal, and bigger studios are surely feeling the pinch. The biggest victims here in Nashville have been the mid level analog rooms because anyone other than a major label artist can't justify the expense of analog. Many have closed. I guess what you have to sell your prospective clients on is "You get what you pay for" as long as you can back that up. You can make great recordings on a shoestring in someone's basement, or crappy recordings in a big studio with top flight gear, so it all comes down to delivering the goods either way. I'm fortunate to own my space, which is a great sounding room, and I'm running affordable DAW based gear, so I haven't had a problem finding work. I hope you can find a workable solution. Any chance of getting a bargain price from your boss for graveyard hours?
     
  9. The thing is, this isn't a "public" recording studio. This is a production studio in the producer's basement. I know that sounds like it's the same as the highschool kid's basement studio, but you have to trust me that it isn't.

    For AD/DA conversion, we use an RME Fireface 800 into Nuendo 3. The rest of our gear can be found at http://www.seventhwavestudio.com/gear.html. We're not exactly slouching in the gear department, if I may be so bold. There are studios around us with full-on ProTools HD3 systems that aren't getting business.

    So it doesn't seem like a "their gear is better than your gear" argument. Bands just want to spend less, but they expect the same quality everywhere.

    So anyway, no go on the "graveyard hours" because it's Jason's house.
     
  10. jonyoung

    jonyoung Well-Known Member

    Reinforces my opinion that some people aren't worth doing business with. These are the ones that will nitpick you to death over mix corrections after approving a mix and then not expect to pay any extra. They probably have to get burned by having a crappy recording done before they figure out the real value of a good engineer and studio.
     
  11. Thomas W. Bethel

    Thomas W. Bethel Well-Known Member

    bewarethanatos


    I live in a small town (pop 7500). This is a college town and I would say that at present probably every fifteenth house has some type of a recording studio in it. In this area alone there are probably 4 studios with gear similar to what you are going to be able to use and within 100 miles of my house there are well over 500 recording studios. Recording studios around here charge anywhere between $15.00 per hour and $300 per hour. Most charge in the $20 to $40 per hour price range including full use of the equipment and an engineer. Most of these smaller studios are owned by someone who has a full time day job and does this on weekends and at night. It is all very cut throat and the local artists play one studio off the other all the time. I just was just contacted about doing some mastering for a bluegrass band. They got their recording done for FREE (hard to beat that price) because the engineer was just starting out. They were looking to get the same kind of deal from me (FREE) which I did not want to provide. So they went off looking for someone else to do the mastering.

    I feel your pain but that is the way the music business is going today. The only people who are getting rich on all of this is the places like GC, Sam Ash and Sweetwater who are selling the equipment to all these studios.

    One problem is that there is no certification for calling yourself a recording engineer or mixdown engineer or mastering engineer so anyone can hang out a sign saying "recordings done here" whether they know what they are doing or don't is a moot point. It is a WALMART world and the mantra of "cheaper is better" is all that the artist is thinking about and not how good the equipment or the engineer is in doing what they want. Trust me as a mastering engineer I get to hear the results of this bargin basement recording studios and it ain't pretty.

    Best of luck and let us know how things are going.....
     
  12. ezride251

    ezride251 Guest

    I am going to assume that you have never taken an economics class so here is a little crash course. Your services are only worth what someone is willing to pay for them. I understand you have a little overhead to deal with but this is not the responsibility of the client. It is yours. You have to figure out a way to offer a competetive price. You might want to sit down for this... you might even have to cut your projected profits! However, if I have understood you correctly, all of your business is going across the street anyway. So if you made anythng on the deal it would be more than your making now right? Your clients dont care one bit about whether or not you are making enough to live on. They only care about making the best record/demo at the best price. Your potential clients are going elsewhere because they don't think that what you have to offer is worth what you are charging. So until you drop your price or offer something which the client perceives as being worth what you are charging you will continue to lose business. So there it is Econ 101. Best of luck to you.
     
  13. Thomas W. Bethel

    Thomas W. Bethel Well-Known Member

    Today the difference in quality between a multimillion dollar recording studio and a basement operation may only be in the quality of the engineer and his or her knowledge of the equipment. Yes the multimillion dollar studio may have better acoustics and their equipment may all be top end but I have seen enough "basement" studios to know that there are some real sleepers out there with top flight equipment and GREAT acoustics. It maybe the home studio of a top flight musician or producer or it maybe someone's hobby but there are some nice studios in private homes. Maybe yours is one of the really nice ones....

    Let see why someone would rather record in your studio than go elsewhere. Not in any real order but....

    1. The track record of your studio. Who have you done and how big a name are they? and how recently have you worked with them?

    2. The gear and the acoustics and how do they stack up against the competition. What can you offer a potential client that no one else can?

    3. The knowledge and experience of the engineer and how much of it is with the type of music you are getting ready to record.

    4. The availability of drum sets, guitar amplifiers (vintage is an extra plus) microphone cabinet contents and outboard gear in the control room

    5. The ambiance of the studio. Dark and gloomy? bright and sterile? Homey with lots of overstuffed couches and a killer break room? Is smoking allowed? Food provided and a kitchen in the vicinity for coffee and to warm up the pizza? Good place to spend 40+ hours working on your music?

    6. How accessible is it for load in and load out. Where is it located and how much external noise is generated in the house (I was in a basement studio where it literally sounded like a herd of buffalo was going to and fro upstairs when we were going to start recording it turned out to be 3 young kids and 5 dogs having a good time)

    7. How compatible are the people doing the recording and the members of the band or artist. Sometimes there is a bad vibe going on which can be hard to deal with.

    8. What are your rates compared to others in the vicinity and do you offer things like block booking rates, off peak rates and how flexible are you with your rates if someone only has a set amount of money to do this recording.

    9. Being friendly with someone does not guarantee they will be clients. You have to be able to offer them things that no one else can or at least "make them an offer they can't refuse" (to quote the GODFATHER) A nice tour of your studio is always a good thing coupled with some time to talk in the control room and listen to some of what you have done RECENTLY. This should be a time to get to know each other more and a time for a "dog and pony show" of the studio and it's surroundings. You can point out things like the overstocked fridge or the Fender Twin reverb guitar amp or the new skins on the vintage drum set. It never hurts to put your best foot forward when wooing a potential new client.

    Hope this helps!

    Best of luck! and check back and let us know how things are going.
     
  14. philsaudio

    philsaudio Active Member


    Interesting. I live outside Atlanta in a town of 25000. My Cul-de-Sac is home for three houses. There are two recording studios in my cul-de-sac.

    I think anyone who is recording is lucky. People getting paid are really lucky!

    peace
    Phil
     

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